Kansas City Chiefs organized team activities (OTAs) begin this week on Tuesday, March 24. Here are a few pieces of information worth watching for:
How does the new offensive line position itself?
Given all of the offseason work Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and company have done with this group, there are a number of different combinations possible. The left side is set, but there is legitimate competition from center to right guard and right tackle. I’m sticking with my prediction of Orlando Brown-Joe Thuney-Creed Humphrey-Kyle Long-Lucas Niang (left to right) by the time the season starts. But, don’t be surprised if the veterans start out on top of the depth chart in OTAs. That could mean Brown-Thuney-Austin Blythe-Laurent Duvernay-Tardif- Mike Remmers starting this week. It may take some time for the rookies to work their way up the depth chart. If we start hearing positives and seeing reps in OTAs with the first team, we’ll know that they’re on track.
A check-in on injured players
There are a number of Chiefs coming off of serious injuries and offseason surgeries (and some we may not even know about). All eyes will be on Patrick Mahomes, as always, as he works back from foot surgery. But don’t forget about Deandre Baker, recovering from that broken femur and Taco Charlton, who had a broken ankle. These guys could be significant contributors at critical positions this season. Seeing them moving around on the field this week could be a very good sign. There’s also Willie Gay Jr., who we’re expecting big things from at the linebacker position — he had a knee injury last season. Getting all of the previously injured players in the building and seeing where they are in the rehab process is an important milestone for OTAs.
Who caught the coaches’ eyes?
We sometimes hear from position coaches during the team activities, and they can provide some insight into specific players that they’re working closely with.
There will also be some new faces on the coaching staff or coaches in new positions, so it might be the first time we hear from some of these guys. Terry Bradden Jr., for example, is the new assistant defensive line coach. Ken Flajole has taken over the outside linebacker role, and Greg Lewis will transition from working with receivers to running backs. Joe Bleymaier now has wide receivers after his previous stint as the team’s pass game analyst and assistant quarterbacks coach.
Mecole Hardman vs. the field
I’m on record as saying that the title of “No. 2 wide receiver” doesn’t actually matter. I believe it’s more about specific roles, skills and packages, and that the Chiefs will spread the ball around to several players after Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. That being said, we can still learn a lot about the potential development of Mecole Hardman beginning this week, as he lines up and (hopefully) shows mastery of the offense. It will also be interesting to see how much work Cornell Powell gets with the first team as compared to Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle and others. Also watch for the Chiefs’ debut of Antonio Callaway, who Veach has spoken highly about and has an outside shot at a final wide receiver job.